I love the word "silly" in English:

You're being silly.

It incorporates a sense of humor, playfulness. Google translates it into Spanish as tonto, which is just wrong (and almost cost me a relationship; thanks Google).

Is there any good translation for "silly"?

  • It is not usually the case, but Google Translate is right. Silly=tonto however depending on the tone you say it you will get the expected result or a fist in your nose. :-)
    – DGaleano
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 15:15

4 Answers 4


While tonto has more negative nuances than silly, and can easily offend someone, in Argentinian Spanish, the word


translates silly almost to perfection

  • Totalmente de acuerdo. El equivalente chileno es pelotudo, aunque no es tan "suave" entre nosotros como boludo entre los argentinos, alguien podría ofenderse. Agüevonado ya es generalmente ofensivo.
    – Rodrigo
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 15:33
  • Pelotudo in Argentina is a pretty strong insult; extremely strong if directed to a woman.
    – Bruno9779
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 15:34

I think that tonto is the perfect translation for silly. It all depends on the way it is pronounced (I have already had lots of conversations about this word with speakers of other languages).

Think about these situations:

  • A person comes to you with an angry face and says to you in a harsh way:

    ¿Pero tú estás tonto?

  • Your girlfriend comes to you with a smiling face and says in a playful way:

    ¡Anda ya, tonto!

Both situations are completely different, the way the word is uttered is completely different, but the word is the same and has completely different meanings and connotations.

Nonetheless, I understand that it may be a dangerous word if you do not know how to use it. If you want to make sure that you use the word in a playful way, use a diminutive variant. I have heard the word used this way a lot in episodes of Paw Patrol (La Patrulla Canina in Spain, and yes, I also have a small kid):

¡Anda ya, tontito!
¡Pero no me seas tontito!

  • 3
    I think the English word is also subject to the same problems as you outline. If you call the wrong person silly at the wrong time you may have problems. Indeed it would be a silly thing to do.
    – mdewey
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 14:27
  • I think that tonto has a way stronger nuance to it. Tonto is almost always offensive
    – Bruno9779
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 14:59

I agree that silly may have a wide array of connotations that make difficult to translate the word properly.

I would avoid using "estúpido" and would stick to "tonto", "bobo" o "absurdo". If I'm trying to make my three year-old laugh my wife might ask him "Is papa being silly?"

¿Ya está papá haciendo el tonto?

¿Ya está papá haciendo el bobo?

If at work someone points out something is a "silly idea" it would be "absurda" o "tonta". Again, you want to shy away form other words that have stronger connotations like "idiots" or "stupid".

  • 1
    "bobo" yo lo veo más inocente que "tonto". le pega mas a "silly" ^^
    – lois6b
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 10:56
  • @lois6b I guess there are regional differences. For me "tonto" is more "light" while bobo is more rude and may cause a bad reaction from the silly person
    – DGaleano
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 15:10
  • @DGaleano of course, every region has its own meaning . its dificult but also interesting ^^
    – lois6b
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 16:31

This is a little limited, as almost all of my experience comes from Chile. My top choice for silly as you describe it is divertido/a. It isn't so great for speaking about goofiness, but it does speak to sense of humor or playfulness when used to describe a person. Thinking back on people I've known who are that way, this was the word most often used to describe them.

Says the Diccionario de la Lengua Española from the Real Academia Española (http://dle.rae.es/?id=E0pO7wd):

divertido, da Del part. de divertir.

  1. adj. Que divierte.
  2. adj. Alegre, festivo y de buen humor.
  3. adj. Arg. y Perú. Ligeramente ebrio.
  • Welcome to the site. I do not think that has quite the right ring as silly definitely includes doing something slightly wrong but not serious whereas divertido has a more positive sound.
    – mdewey
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 14:26
  • Nope silly does not translate to divertido. Divertido can be translated as funny or rarely as enjoyable, but never as silly
    – Bruno9779
    Commented Feb 23, 2017 at 14:56

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